All posts in “Gadgets”

Google IO 2017: Watch Live Video of Google’s Big Show Right Here

Every year, thousands of Google developers gather at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California for Google IO, the company’s biggest developer show of the year. Google executives take the stage to show the latest tools, features, and updates coming to all of the company’s products.

The keynote address starts at 10 am Pacific (1 pm Eastern) on Wednesday, May 17. The video player at the top of this page will start showing the live feed about an hour before the keynote address begins. We’ll also be running a liveblog filled with commentary and analysis—join in.

What should you expect? Lots of talk about Android, for sure. Google will most likely show enhancements to its mobile operating system, the most-used piece of software in the world that powers close to two billion devices. We’ll also hear about Google’s cloud services, from the corporate end all the way down to the consumer stuff like Gmail. There’s no hotter topic in Silicon Valley than AI, and Google has always been at the forefront of AI research and development. We should definitely expect the company to tell us about how it’s pushing machine learning, voice recognition, and computer vision. Speaking of computer vision, the other hot topic in tech is “mixed reality” (or augmented reality), where real-world images are overlayed with computer imagery. Facebook, Microsoft, and Snapchat are all leading the charge here, so we can expect Google to show some moves as well. Just join us in hoping they don’t bring Google Glass back from the dead.

See the full Google IO 2017 schedule at the company’s website for the event. And join our liveblog for even more insight!

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HTC’s Squishy New Phone Has All The Things—Even Alexa

Imagine you’re HTC. You were once atop the smartphone heap, making some of the best-designed and most impressive Android devices on the planet. Life was so exciting! Then everyone else kept improving, and you didn’t. Samsung, and Apple, and Xiaomi, and Oppo, and, well, just about everybody passed you by. You’re trying to get back into the game. What do do you?

If you answered “throw a hundred ideas into a single phone and see what happens,” congratulations! You just joined HTC’s product team. The company’s new phone, the U11, sounds like a youth soccer league but is absolutely loaded to the brim with interesting new tech and ideas. There’s Edge Sense, an entirely new interface that lets you gently squeeze the sides of your phone to take a selfie, dictate a text, or open an app—like 3D Touch, only on the sides of the phone instead of the screen. There’s also a new design language HTC calls “Liquid Surface,” a super-refractive (and by the looks of it, super-reflective) glass manufacturing process that makes the phone glisten in the light. HTC’s even touting its audio prowess, which it calls USonic, and incorporates into a pair of noise-cancelling headphones that come with the new phone.

The U11’s most awesome feature is its Alexa integration. It works hands-free, so you don’t have to unlock the phone to use Alexa—and you get all the same stuff you’d get on an Echo. If the Fire Phone had survived, this is how Amazon would have integrated its virtual assistant. Since it’s an Android phone, the U11 also has Google Assistant; you decide which you want to talk to at any given time. And since it’s an HTC phone, there’s a whole other assistant too! The Sense Companion keeps your phone running smoothly, reminds you to leave for work on time, helps with fitness goals, and the like. You could argue three assistants is too many, but we’d say there’s no such thing. Though we’d also like to humbly request a “Hey y’all” wake word to speak to all three assistants at once. And have questions about whether the assistants know of each other, and may get jealous over time. But we digress.

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Not interested in lovingly squeezing your phone or chatting with the peanut gallery inside, and just want some super-duper hardware specs? HTC’s got you. The U11 has a 5.5-inch, 2560×1440 screen, and runs Qualcomm’s brand-spankin’-new Snapdragon 835 processor, along with 4 gigs of RAM and 64 gigs of storage. Its new 12-megapixel camera has wide aperture and fast autofocus, and apparently received the highest score ever from DxO Labs, an independent image-quality tester. (The previous winner was the Google Pixel, which has a truly fantastic camera.) Fingerprint reader: check. Waterproof: check. Sprint exclusive: sadly, check.

The Edge Sense stuff is HTC’s biggest swing here, as the company grasps for a genuinely new and useful way to use your smartphone. It sounds clever, actually, but it’s hard to imagine many developers building for one feature on one Android device, which means phone-squeezing is probably forever just a shortcut button. Luckily, the U11 seems to have plenty of other stuff going for it. The phone’s available for pre-order now, starting at $649 unlocked or $29 a month on your Sprint bill. It comes in blue, black, and silver, all of which look good.

Is it enough to make HTC cool again? We’ll have to see how good those photos really are. And how much we like talking to Alexa on the go. But at first glance, the kitchen-sink approach seems like the right one.

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Review: Breville PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro

Trundle through as many fancy restaurant kitchens as I have and you’ll start recognizing specialized tools, big and small: little offset spatulas, slablike flat-top griddles, high-powered Vitamix blenders, spoonulas. For years now, many of those kitchens also used something that looks like a cross between a black squirt gun and a battery-powered hookah.